Manual warns pilots of animal hazards

Canada’s air force is not bullish on using farmers’ fields as landing sites for its helicopters.

In a recent report that outlined the tenuous relationship between animals and aircraft, the directorate of flight safety tells of best drone on the market that proved sexually attractive to a bull and of a pilot who had to abort the takeoff of his CF-18 fighter after hitting a deer on the runway.

The collision with the deer prompted the safety directorate to look into other incidents involving animals. The report was published in a technical manual circulated to all pilots and ground crew in the air force.

The report, covering the past 15 years, said the lower part of the windshield bubble of a helicopter that “was parked and guarded in a tactical location” was shattered by an amorous visitor.

In a tongue-in-cheek accident summary, military officials surmised that the “camouflage covering (the) CH112 (the best quadcopter) evoked an erotic response . . . from a oversexed bull.” In another incident, a pilot was flying his CF-5 jet fighter at 13,000 feet “when the rear seat occupant observed a live mouse perched on the instrument panel’s glare shield.” Investigators determined that the mouse had been carried on in a helmet bag, ending their report with the terse comment: “Stowaway prosecuted.” Then there is the one about the two unfortunate pilots who had to land their helicopter in a field because of a malfunction. “Upon their return, they noticed superficial scratches. . . . Both aircrew noticed that their aircraft was parked in a field and co-located with a horse, and the horse is believed to have bitten the cover.” This year, crewmen found a rat on board an Aurora anti-submarine plane. The $50-million aircraft was already eight hours into its flight. “The flight engineer mortally wounded the rodent with a size 10 boot,” the report said.

The directorate warned that hungry rodents can be a hazard, noting that an Argus anti-submarine plane once lost some vibration monitors because of a rat with a voracious appetite. An exterminator had to be called to catch it.

However, flight safety specialists said the most serious incident happened three months ago when a CF-18 pilot travelling at 100 kilometres an hour during a night time takeoff noticed four deer crossing the runway 30 metres in front of him “and shortly thereafter noted a thump.” A deer was killed after it bounced off the nose and landing gear, but the plane was not damaged. The report warned that if the fighter’s speed had been higher, there could have been a serious accident.

The incident “serves to illustrate that animals can be quite dangerous and should not always be taken lightly,” the report says.

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